It is my impression that composers and performers of contemporary music are willing to work together and talk things over, but that they find it difficult to come up with adequate words and methods. The fact that the music is so important to us means that the friction and heat produced during the processes can have some interesting results. Our classical music education does not give us many tools to allow us to communicate in the different ways I have found necessary when communicating with living composers about new music. Barbara Lüeneburg writes:
The training of specific, professional communication skills in social interaction, open-minded listening and a positive and honest evaluation process are not usually an explicit part of our professional education. It is difficult enough in chamber music to find clear and helpful ways to criticise and to negotiate the undercurrents of self-confidence, artistic egos, and issues of equality and authority; in the relation between composer and performer unquestioned, traditional hierarchical role models and task areas determine the position of power in the relationship and the kind and level of criticism that is considered appropriate.
To enable equal participation in any collaboration, performer and composer should have comparable skill levels in their domain to feel safe, and in autonomy and authority. Composers and performers should also consider basic strategies and rules of teamwork; to discuss team norms, structures and rules might, at first sight, seem rather corporate to artists, but in practice, it facilitates more efficient and productive work. (Lüeneburg, 2013: 37)
Making strategies to enable clearer forms of collaboration seems like a good idea when attempting to meet the expectations we have of each other during the process. All the same, it is often the case that our understanding comes from the experience. Jens E. Kjeldsen describes the life cycle of rhetorical situations like this:
Rhetorical situations arise, grow and mature until a rhetorical response is most appropriate. The mature rhetorical situation may last for a few seconds. And it can last for several years, even millennia, as in religious rituals or philosophy. If one speaker fails to create an appropriate rhetorical response when the time is ripe, the situation will deteriorate and degenerate until the urgent problem can no longer be solved by rhetoric. At that point, the rhetorical situation will disintegrate and disappear. We’ve probably all had the experience of not being able to find the right response to a situation. And afterwards, when we get to think about what we should have answered, it’s too late. In this sense, rhetorical situations have a life cycle consisting of four possible stages: 1) origin; 2) maturity; 3) degradation; and 4) disintegration. (Kjeldsen, 2006:89-90, my translation).